SKI - - WEST - —S.B.

There’s much to say about Vail. Which is not sur­pris­ing for a re­sort of 5,289 acres, the big­gest in Colorado. Funny, though, that one of the most re­peated reader com­ments com­prises only two sim­ple words: “Back Bowls.” In­deed, Vail Back Bowls and its Blue Sky Basin ter­rain are what sets it apart, el­e­vat­ing it from just an­other mega-sized re­sort to, as one reader opines, “the crown-jewel of U.S. ski­ing.” Say oth­ers: “The back bowls are with­out ri­val.” “So ex­ten­sive that even a few days af­ter a big storm you can find ar­eas that still have pow­der.” All this rolls up to a de­cent No. 14 for Va­ri­ety, served by a speedy, and of­ten-up­graded, net­work of lifts (No. 6). High scores in Lodg­ing (No. 7), Din­ing (No. 5), and Ser­vice (No. 11) speak to a strong off-slope game, de­spite some opin­ions that the pur­pose-built string of vil­lages just off In­ter­state 70 “lack char­ac­ter.” Pre­dictably, read­ers ad­vise prospec­tive vis­i­tors to ”up their credit limit” and “pack a full wal­let” be­fore em­bark­ing. “You re­ally have to fig­ure out which kid isn’t go­ing to col­lege to ski there.” But at the end of the day, Vail pleases most com­ers with its ex­pan­sive, well-main­tained slopes, and read­ers agree this is one place all skiers have to ex­pe­ri­ence. “Hail Vail! On a good snow day, the Back Bowls may of­fer the best ski ex­pe­ri­ence on planet Earth!”

FAM­ILY TRAIL Hairbag Al­ley rides like a nat­u­ral banked-slalom course through the trees. It’s a hoot. DIN­NER PICK Try the new Pen­du­lum for Latin-in­spired cui­sine in a sunny, rus­tic space in Vail Vil­lage. Do or­der a sig­na­ture cock­tail off the in­no­va­tive bar menu. SIG­NA­TURE EVENT Vail ush­ers in the sea­son with gusto thanks to SnowDaze, Dec. 9–11 this year, fea­tur­ing a con­cert by the Michael Franti Trio plus a week­end of more mu­sic, par­ties, and ex­pos.

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